Nature Reserve of the Year 2016
Winner of Nature Reserve of the Year for the second year in a row, and by an impressive margin. At Bass Rock, viewers behold a gannet-drenched stone kingdom in the Firth of Forth
This 320-million-year old volcanic island off the coast of North Berwick is the largest single rock gannetry in the world, inhabited by more than 150,000 birds during breeding season. Says naturalist Simon Barnes: “You think nature is not for you and then you go to Bass Rock and see how wonderful and how easy it can be. Bass Rock is a portal, open to everyone. It says: ‘Welcome to the wild world. Come in and find a lifetime of joys’.”
Runner up: Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
Four miles of shingle spit on the North Norfolk coastline offers an ideal haven for spectacular birdlife and wildlife, which capitalise on the protection it affords Blakeney Harbour and the surrounding saltmarshes. Visitors can delight in the grey seal colony in winter and the tern breeding colony in summer.
Maria Hodson is production editor at BBC Countryfile Magazine, alongside Margaret Bartlett. Since moving to Bristol in 2014, Maria has made every effort to escape into nature and loves all things wild and watery, from surfing and swimming to paddle-boarding and kayaking. Her adventure highlight in recent years was sea kayaking around remote St Kilda, off the coast north-west Scotland, in 2016. Most weekends, however, are spent exploring the great outdoors with her small child and doing accessible walks. Favourite family adventures are bird-watching at Slimbridge Wetland Centre and exploring the Forest of Dean, as well as an annual pilgrimage to see the starling murmuration on the Somerset Levels.